Thursday, March 13, 2008

More Acid Aimed at Homeschoolers

In today's edition of the Los Angeles Times, two former university professors take aim at homeschooling. In an opinion piece entitled, "Regulating home schoolers," Walter P. Coombs and Ralph E. Shaffer, both emeritus professors at Cal Poly Pamona, write the following things about home education:

"It's time Californians realized that there are few regulations regarding home schooling and virtually no safeguards to make certain that subjects appropriate to the age group are taught. On the other hand, there is a formidable cottage industry run by conservative evangelicals that provides 'suitable' materials for home schoolers."

"If home schooling forums on the Web are indicative of the views held by parents of learn-at-home kids, their offspring are getting an extremely warped lesson in civics."

"It's evident that the vast majority who teach their offspring in front of the television do so because they don't want their children to be subjected to such dangerous doctrines as evolution, abortion, global warming, equal rights and other ideas abhorrent to the evangelical mantra."

"There has always been something decidedly elitist and anti-democratic in home schooling. It smacks of a belief that privileged children should not have to associate with the other kids in the neighborhood and that by staying home, they would not be subjected to the leavening effect of democracy."

"Moreover, it is apparent from the cries of the far right that there has been a specific policy in home schooling -- to teach only the ideas acceptable to ideologues who fear the contaminating influence of what is commonly known as a liberal education."

These comments speak for themselves. The concerning thing is that because these men were professors, at least some people will listen to them. This way of thinking could continue to make its way into public policy.

All parents who exercise their constitutional rights to educate their children at home must be aware of what is happening nationally. We must stand up for the rights granted to us in the U.S. constitution. One way to start doing this is to join HSLDA.

To read the above opinion piece in the LA Times, click here.

12 comments:

Rhea said...

I think that the problem is that too many home-schooled kids turn out to be "weirdos." I'm not trying to be mean about this, but I'm sure that you've run across at least one home-schooled kid that just seems a little "off" socially. Now, the truth is, there are plenty of "weird" kids in traditional schools, but we just chalk that up to them being weird...for whatever reason, when it's a home-schooled kid, we assume that it's b/c of the home-schooling, and not just that the kid is weird (btw, I'm not trying to be mean when I say "weird"...I would actually classify myself as one of those "weird" kids in school).

Eric said...

Rhea,

Thank you for commenting.

I think two things are going on. First, our society looks at the typical public-schooled child and says they are normal. Therefore, those who are different are considered to be strange. My experience is that today's public-schooled kids are much more materialistic and shallow than are kids who are educated at home. The real key is which kids are growing up to honor God. It is clear that in this area those who are homeschooled are much more likely to follow God than are those who attend public school. Statistically speaking, kids who attend public school are much more likely to leave the church when they get to college age than are those who are educated at home.

Second, for some reason, when a kid seems strange and he attends public school, the kid himself is blamed for his weirdness. However, when a kid is weird and is homeschooled, it is the homeschooling that gets blamed. I've never seen any statistics that show homeschoolers to be weirder than public schoolers.

I'm thrilled that there are some people who attend public school and end up being strong followers of Christ. However, when we look at the big picture, there can be no doubt that in both academics and social interaction, homeschooling is far superior to public school.

Eric

Aussie John said...

Eric,

One has to wonder whether being a "professor" requires a special kind of blinkered and biased thinking.One of the reasons these people make the comments they do is that they know the social engineering, which happens abundantly in the Australian State systems, is virtually impossible to affect home schooled children.

As a pastor, it has been my great pleasure to know many home schooled children who academically excel, far above those taught in the state system. To be honest, I have also known an occasional home schooled family who have been taught an elitist, isolationist philosophy of life.

It would be good to hear/read some public testimony of home schooled people who have become notable members of society, and even level headed professors.

Eric said...

John,

It seems that those who hate Christianity the most are also those who are the most anti-homeschool. This, of course, is because they know they can infect children with a secular-humanist worldview in the public schools.

It amazes me when I meet a strong Christian who survived 13 years of public school indoctrination. This is clearly only by the grace of God.

All homeschooled kids are by no means strong Christians. However, the overall statistics support homeschooling to an overwhelming degree.

Dana said...

Hey, you gotta love professors who base their opinions on selective samplings of discussions on internet forums.

That is some high quality research resulting in some high quality writing. : )

Eric said...

Dana,

It is scary when university professors ignore all the factual evidence, and instead state their personal beliefs as if they are the facts.

Anonymous said...

Overall I agree with what you and those commenting have said. However, I think we need to be careful about making sweeping statements that "there can be no doubt that in both academics and social interaction, homeschooling is far superior to public school." I realize you are probably referring to Christian homeschooling. After teaching 10 years in the public school system I would be terrified if even 50% of my students began to be homeschooled. Due to their parents lifestyle, life philosophies, and warped sense of parenting, they needed to be under the influence of other people, and like me, hopefully, some of those other people would be Christians.
Again, I agree, that based on the homeschooling families I have known (and I have known a lot) they tend to receive a better education, but let's face it, regardless of academic degrees, some people out there should not homeschool. However, I do not think that is for the government to decide.
Denise

Eric said...

Denise,

Thank you for commenting.

I do stand by my statement, "There can be no doubt that in both academics and social interaction, homeschooling is far superior to public school."

By saying that, I am not saying that every parent should homeschool. As a school psychologist, I met several parents of kids in public school who outright neglected their kids. For some kids, just about the only good that happened to them all day was some of what they received at public school.

My statement is meant to be a general one. Evidence is clear in both areas: those kids who are homeschooled do better academically and seem more mature socially than those in public school.

Interestingly, I've never met a homeschooling parent who seemed to be neglecting their children in any way. This appears to be the nature of home education; those who would neglect their kids have no interest in teaching them at home.

I'm glad to hear you say that the government should not decide if parents can homeschool. I will say, and I imagine you agree, that if a parent began homeschooling but was found to be neglecting their child, the government should then place the child in public school.

The difficulty is what the government's definition of neglect is. What happens if down the line a state government says that all kids need to be taught that evolution is true, and if the parent does not do this, then they are neglecting their child's education?

For the most part, the government needs to just stay out of home education.

Rhea said...

One thing that I would like to say, is that I think for Christian students, the public school system is a great mission field. I can think of two girls inparticular that went to my high school that were both Christians, that had a HUGE impact on my life. I wasn't "really" friends with either one of them, but they both reached out to me in my time of need, and actually shared part of the Gospel with me. If it wasn't for me (and both of them) going to a public school, it might have not been till even later in my life that I was exposed to authentic Christianity.

Eric said...

Rhea,

Thanks again for our input to this discussion. You bring up an interesting point. I'm thrilled for your sake that those two girls had such an impact on you.

You're basically talking about Christians being missionaries in public schools. Two things come to mind when when I think about this.

First, missionaries in the bible were adults. Therefore, children under 12 (the biblical age of young adulthood) must not be included in this. They are far too young to defend themselves against secular humanist ideology. The girls you talked about were in high school, therefore they would be considered young adults. Related to this, schools are unique situations. This is the case because in a classroom there is generally one person doing the talking. That is the teacher. Therefore, most of the influence goes from teacher to student. If the teacher is forced by the state to teach from a secular perspective, then that will almost always be the direction of the influence. Schools are not like the marketplace, where there is a free flow of ideas. Schools are very carefully controlled environments. Communication is generally designed to flow in one direction.

Second, those girls must have been very strong Christians. Unfortunately, the majority of the time it is Christian kids who are impacted by their secular schools much more than it is the Christians who are impacting their schools for Christ. One statistic that bears this out is that FAR fewer public schoolers remain in church after high school than do homeschoolers. I'm not saying that Christian kids cannot have a positive impact (your case is a great example); however, the majority of the time, the influence is in the wrong direction.

Rhea said...

Eric:

I definitely understand what you're saying/where you're coming from. I grew up primarily in the Bible-belt (in Western Kentucky) and the idea of "separation of church and state" thankfully isn't a big deal around here. I had countless teachers in high school who loved me and prayed for me...individuals who I could talk to about different things (including spiritual matters, though I didn't do that a whole lot), which I found particularly helpful after both my parents passed away before I started my junior year of high school.

There's a lot about home-schooling that I think is good...I'm definitely not an "anti-homeschooler," BUT, I think that there can be a lot of good things in a traditional public school. I think that a lot of it depends on the specific school. The longer that I've been out of high school, the more I realize that the school system that I was in, and especially the high school that I attended, are just amazing. They really were/are a cut above the rest. Academically, I was better prepared for college than any of the friends I've made since being in college.

There definitely is a lot of anti-Christian rhetoric being taught in some public schools, but thankfully that was never an issue at the school that I attended (being small, in the Bible Belt, and in the South helped :-) ). We actually read part of the OT in my English class my sophomore year in high school...the really cool thing about it was our teacher wsn't even a Christian, but he just decided that we'd read part of the OT as history...and his was the only English class that did that. I can see how God used the school that I went to in my life even before I was a Christian...He's been chasing after me for a while now :-)

Eric said...

Rhea,

I'm glad that you had such a good situation in high school. There certainly are some schools that are still that way; I'm afraid they are distinctly in the minority now.

One problem many local public schools face is that many of the folks at the state level who set the curriculum are flat out anti-Christian. This directly affects what the teachers have to teach, even if they do not want to.

Another issue is that scripture certainly at least suggests that kid's education should be Christ-centered. I just don't know how this can happen in a public school setting.

One of the great privileges for us of educating our kids at home is that we get to see them see Christ in all subjects.

I was not homeschooled, but I want to give this gift to my children.

If God blesses you with kids some day, maybe you will give it a try.